I don't usually post about my life outside of awkwardness and silliness, but I am graduating college soon. I recently rediscovered this picture of me (my parents met at the college I now attend). Baby R. Grace has come full circle.
Collegetown had a very mild winter this year, and for that I was insanely grateful.
You see, when I hear "Winter is Coming," I think of one thing:
It also means Game of Thrones but underneath all that warm fuzziness of bloodshed and sex is scratch, scratch, scratching.
As mentioned in the Awk Squawk about asking a new resident if my treatment would give me flipper babies, I have eczema. It is gross and miserable and hideous. It also get aggravated by lack of sunlight, thick scratchy fabrics and long, hot showers. Those three factors define my winter in a nutshell. Dr. Dad is like a wool evangelist and as a doctor's child I have been sufficiently scared away from the cancer beds. I still don't understand why apartment complexes offer tanning beds as part of their "complimentary services," but you ask the staff for a pack of smokes and they look at you like you're crazy. And lukewarm showers in the winter? When I am paying for heating in my house and always cold? Surely you jest.
These days, I have two powerful aids on my side. I possess super thick miracle cream from the doctor and very very (very very) mild soap.
However in high school, I was not so lucky.
First, I did not exactly know what was going on with my skin (Is this puberty? Dammit body get your shit together). Second, I was the typical teenage girl obsessed with bath products. Super smelly lotiony all-moisture-stripping chemical-overload ground into my epidermis with a loofah? ... but the label says "Midnight Path" or "Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Cookie Crumble"and who doesn't want to smell like a grocery store? Finally, big chunky (but still close-fitting? I never did figure out high school style) cable knit sweaters were "in." However, being in NC where it only gets legitimately cold maybe one month of the year, these big fluffy sweaters usually went on bare skin.
Or maybe that was just me?
Anyways, I was a senior and high school and AWESOME. Lead in the school play, President of the English Honor Society (nerd) etc. Winter hit and I reveled in turning down track&field because I was so embarrassingly slow I wanted to focus on theatre. Our Advanced Theater class was a pretty close knit group, mostly because no one else in the school wanted anything to do with us.
A particularly scratchy afternoon in the doldrums of January began to drive me crazy. I had on a pink fuzzy sweater from American Eagle - I remember this specifically because AE was SO COOL but Lady Mother would never spend money on cool name brand clothes. This was before shopping at Goodwill was trendy. She wanted me to focus on things like my grades and personality instead of dressing like the popular kids, that cruel fiend. But somehow, probably through a combination of prolonged whining and Christmas-present-time-mania, I got an American Eagle sweater.
And it itched like the fires of hell mixed with poison ivy.
So I scratched all morning and afternoon, but I would not take the damn thing of because it was AMERICAN EAGLE, for crying out loud! I almost could understand Kate Moss's statement that:"nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," because no relief from the horrible itching would feel as good as the brief nods of approval in the hallway. Beauty is pain, right?
However, there came a point in the late afternoon where I thought I might actually start pulling my hair out just to distract myself from the itching. I figured enough was enough and I would finally cave and-
roll up the sleeves a little bit.
Hah, you didn't think I would actually TAKE OF THE HORRIBLY AFFLICTING SWEATER, did you? That requires a level of common sense not present in seventeen-year-old girls who just want to be cool.
That particular day in theater we had a substitute teacher. Subs were great because we could convince them to do almost anything, like replay the sex-on-the-stairs scene from American History X at least four times in a row before she got suspicious. We pretty much had free reign.
I rolled up the sleeves as far as they would go, revealing three-inch diameter red, scaly, horrible circles of eczema on the inside of my elbows, with smaller circles smattered around my wrists. I tried to discreetly cover them by crossing my arms and sneak some slow, mournful scratches on the cracked desert battleground of my flesh.
"OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT" came a screech from the girl sitting next to me. I honestly don't remember her name or much about her, except she had the prettiest dirty-blond hair I've ever seen. The substitute stopped her droning and everyone swiveled to look at me. I crossed my arms tighter with my hands clamped over the inside of my elbows. Of course, that only aggravated the itching.
Oh, fuck it.
Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch.
"OH MY GOD YOU HAVE RINGWORM. R. GRACE HAS RINGWORM. R. GRACE IS GOING TO GIVE US ALL RINGWORM OH MY GOD SHE'S COVERED IN WORMS." The girl was almost hysterical. Everyone stared at the scaly patches on my arms. The substitute looked like she was about to faint.
"Actually ringworm is a fungus, it's not 'worms'."
That was my first response. I didn't think to defend myself, or deny it was ringworm, or assure everyone they weren't crawling with disease and would be detained at Ellis Island because of me. I am so glaringly Dr. Dad's own daughter, I had to CORRECT HER DEFINITION of ringworm first.
"OH MY GOD FUNGUS YOU ARE DISGUSTING WORMS WHY ARE YOU IN THE CLASS"
Well that didn't help matters.
I tried to calmly explain to the substitute that it was just eczema, that it always looks like this, that I wasn't contagious... and she was just a vehemently trying to convince me that I needed to go to the school nurse or anywhere far, far away from her.
Trying to save face, I suddenly remembered I had lotion in my backpack. It was something like "Moonberry Dream Vanilla Blossom" with extra added chemicals and perfumes. Utterly the worst thing possible to put on sensitive skin, with the exception of possibly hydrochloric acid. Possibly.
"Oh look, I will just rub some lotion on it and everything will be better. No worries!" I said cheerfully, as I clenched my jaw and bit back tears of agony as I rubbed the reeking, chemically lotion into my scales, shooting stinging pain up my arm. The flesh puffed up and looked almost oozy, but at least there weren't flakes. My arms were burning. The itching had not died down, it was now just complimented with fire and tingling stings.
But I could tell from the judgmental glares around me that it wasn't enough.
So I slowly, miserably, unrolled my sleeves, encasing my sad battered skin with the rough, irritating sweater. And I sat on my hand for the rest of the class, counting the seconds in my head until I could run out of the room and rip off that horrible sweater once and for all.
Except, it was still an American Eagle sweater. And it was kind of worth it, since that one cute boy told me I looked nice. I might have worn it a couple dozen more times.